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Palestinian Militants Kill Israeli Soldier in Gaza

An Israeli soldier has been killed during a gunbattle with Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli army says fighting erupted early Tuesday when Israeli troops operating just inside the Gaza border came under fire.

Two militant Palestinian factions, the armed wing of the governing Hamas movement and the Popular Resistance Committee, issued a joint statement claiming they killed the soldier in an ambush attack.

Israeli forces have been operating in the Gaza Strip since late June, to stop Palestinian rocket attacks and secure the release of an Israeli soldier captured by militants.

Meanwhile, Palestinian leaders from the moderate Fatah faction and the ruling Islamic group Hamas say they have reached an agreement to form a unity government.

Officials say Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to dissolve the current Hamas government in the near future. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh says he expects to remain as prime minister in any new Palestinian administration.

Hamas has rebuffed demands by Israel and other nations that the militants must renounce violence and recognize the Jewish state. News reports Tuesday, however, say the coalition agreement provides that a new government would implicitly recognize Israel.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.